In veiled reference to Pak, China, PM Modi lists 2 challenges facing India
In his 88-minute Independence Day speech from the Red Fort on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the dual challenges of terrorism and expansionism--a veiled reference to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and China‘s expansionist policy in Ladakh—and India’s resolve to strengthen the armed forces, its growing prowess in defence manufacturing and the government’s full commitment to boost self-reliance in the defence sector.
He said that the 2016 surgical strikes and the 2019 air strikes against terror pads in Pakistan sent a strong message to the country’s enemies about the emergence of a ‘new India’ and its resolve to take tough decisions.
While the 2016 strikes against terror pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir were India’s first direct military response to the suicide attack on an army camp in Uri, the air strikes against a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror facility in Pakistan’s Balakot followed the Pulwama attack.
The PM said India was fighting terrorism and expansionism with courage, and the government would take all steps to strengthen the capabilities of the armed forces.
The comments came a day after the government announced the country’s highest and second-highest peacetime gallantry awards --- the Ashok Chakra and Kirti Chakra --- for two Jammu and Kashmir personnel killed in encounters with terrorists.
The reference to the fight against expansionism assumes significance in the backdrop of the border row with China in eastern Ladakh where the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are in talks to disengage their front-line troops from flashpoints on the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC).
India and China have been locked in a border row for more than 15 months, a phase that witnessed a deadly skirmish in the Galwan Valley and saw tensions spiral between the rival armies on the north and south banks of Pangong Tso last year.
The PM made a mention of aircraft carrier Vikrant, locally made light combat aircraft and submarines in his speech, underlining that the projects highlighted India’s indigenous manufacturing capability. India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) Vikrant, the largest warship to be built in the country, kicked off critical sea trials on August 3 ahead of its planned induction into the Indian Navy in less than a year.
Vikrant has put India in a select league --- only the US, the UK, Russia, France and China have the capability to build aircraft carriers. The PM said the government was committed to supporting Atmanirbharta (self-reliance) in the defence sector.
He said Sainik Schools across the country would open their doors to girl students. Currently, there are 33 Sainik Schools in the country that account for a large number of candidates who join the armed forces. The decision was taken after a pilot project for inducting girls, launched at Sainik School Chhingchhip in Mizoram three years ago, resulted in success.